We just read an article about a new surfboard being released by Samsung called the Galaxy Surfboard. It caught our attention as Samsung was synonymous to us with smart phones, not the ocean, so we were intrigued. Would this be for surfing the web or is it truly a surfboard as we understand it? To our surprise it is a surfboard for use in the ocean but has the communication capabilities of a smart phone. Quite a combination. Or is it?
This ‘smart’ surfboard purports to enhance the surfing experience of the individual with the addition of technology predicated on the following. It allows the surfer to obtain real time information regarding the weather, swell and wave conditions. It allows for communication with a coach or other party to improve surfing skills. It allows for support and encouragement from fans, friends and family through social media channels. All of this is possible through a screen on the board’s deck connecting a surfer with individuals not only on shore but miles, even continents away.
On the surface these communications seem innocuous but for the surfers we know this is contradictory to why they surf. Surfing is a chance to unplug from the day to day rat race of technology. It is a chance to commune with nature, to face the elements of the ocean and make decisions based on knowledge acquired through practice, to conquer the force of the wave. And while there is a camaraderie that is enjoyed with friends in the water, cheering and joking with each other in turn, it is still primarily an individual activity in which your competition, if you will, is yourself and the experience of the activity is primary to the performance.
Perhaps though, this distinction is the difference between the serious athlete or professional surfer and those individuals that surf for the pure enjoyment of spending time in the ocean, feeling the board beneath their feet as they ride a wave…for us, soul surfers. We are not trying to say professional surfers don’t enjoy surfing, that it is not their passion, but that perhaps there is a different motivation and with that the need for more progressive equipment. For the professional surfer the Galaxy board does have advantages a traditional surfboard does not but it also changes at a fundamental level the experience while in the water. Is one experience better than the other? That is not for us to decide but rather for the individual. However, if the ‘smart’ board becomes the norm we do believe something precious in the art of surfing will be lost.